How Americans Plan to Shop — and Want to Pay — This Holiday Season

The 2018 holiday shopping season is going to be a big one, with spending projected to reach over $720 billion, a more than four-percent increase over last year.

Our own survey of 2,000 Americans found that nearly half anticipate making at least one large purchase this holiday season ($250+ on a single item).1 Respondents also say they will spend an average of $1,300 this holiday season.

And good news — shoppers want to make those large purchases on Main Street. Seventy-two percent of Americans still prefer to shop in person for larger purchases, and the majority of shoppers said they prefer to shop small whenever they can.

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With big spending this holiday, it’s unsurprising that nearly one in three shoppers say the holiday season makes them stressed. They appreciate options that give them more flexibility and help them manage their budget effectively. To do so, about a third of consumers say they are likely to consider financing options for their holiday purchases this year. Offering financing for in-store purchases gives customers the opportunity to spend more now, and pay over time for holiday purchases.

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Consumers say that having the ability to pay for a purchase over time makes them more comfortable spending more for the holidays (61 percent), and report that financing options help them effectively manage their budget (76 percent). Sixty-eight percent say they would be more likely to consider a small or local business if it offered financing options.

For business owners, the benefit of offering financing is simple: By letting customers pay in whatever way is most comfortable for them, you’re less likely to miss out on a sale.

If you’re using Square Payments, your customers have the freedom to pay for their purchases where they feel most comfortable.

Getting consumers to Main Street

Armed with the right information and the right tools, there’s huge opportunity for small businesses this holiday season. Consumers want to shop in stores and they want to shop local.

This means marketing is crucial to getting them into your shop. Here are some tips on how to drive holiday sales for your business (and your fellow neighborhood businesses) this holiday season:

  • Spread the word: Be sure that you’re properly marketing your holiday offerings to your existing customers with email marketing, and reaching new ones via social media. Here’s how to create your holiday marketing strategy.
  • Partner up: Consider teaming up with other local businesses to promote shopping local. Create a gift guide with items from each business, or host a shopping event with others and include a gift-wrapping or cookie-decorating station.
  • Pop up: If you have extra space in your brick-and-mortar space, consider inviting a smaller brand or restaurant to have a holiday pop-up. The pop-up can bring in new customers for you and build relationships with other local businesses. Your customers may appreciate a new offering as well.
  • Host events: The holidays are stressful for almost everyone. Consider making the season easier on your customers by offering special holiday shopping events, like an evening with fun cocktails or treats and gift wrapping.
  • Check the time: Consider altering your daily hours to cater to customers who might be making holiday purchases after work or earlier in the day. Check your sales analytics from previous years to help you understand what customer patterns were last year, and don’t be afraid to ask customers what would be convenient for them.
  • Create a warm storefront: Whether you’re welcoming customers at your brick-and-mortar store inside from a chilly day, or greeting customers on your website’s homepage, create a space that’s welcoming and seasonal. You can add a few flameless candles, offer hot cider to sip while browsing, or add a holiday banner greeting on your site or on Instagram.

Once you get customers to your store, make sure they can pay for their holiday purchases in whatever way is easiest and most comfortable for them — whether that’s a credit card, a mobile wallet, or through financing. And don’t forget to communicate those offerings through signs throughout your store and at your register.

1The Square Capital Consumer Shopping Survey statistics are based on an online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18, conducted August 15–20, 2018 by Square Capital, LLC. Results are weighted to approximate demographic representation in line with the United States Census Bureau 2017 Current Population Survey. The study has an overall margin of error of ±2.19% at the 95% level of confidence.

2Square Capital, LLC and Square Financial Services, Inc. are both wholly owned subsidiaries of Square, Inc. Square Capital, LLC d/b/a Square Capital of California, LLC in FL, GA, MT, and NY. All loans are issued by either Celtic Bank or Square Financial Services, Inc. Square Financial Services, Inc. and Celtic Bank are both Utah-Chartered Industrial Banks. Members FDIC, located in Salt Lake City, UT. The bank issuing your loan will be identified in your loan agreement. The individual authorized to act on behalf of the business must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years old. Loan eligibility is not guaranteed. All loans are subject to approval.